Welcome to NLMS Music Summer School at Downe House School

A music summer school for adult amateur players and singers, with two orchestras, choir, string group, brass ensemble and – new for 2021 – a percussion course.


After such a long hibernation, we’re all wanting to get back to music making.  NLMS Music Summer School is planning to go ahead in August, assuming no new coronavirus restrictions.  Well over 100 people have booked already, but there are still some vacancies for violins, violas and a bassoon in the Symphony Orchestra, violins and violas in the Sinfonietta, horns, trumpets and tenor trombones on the combined Orchestra / Brass Ensemble course, violins and violas in the String Group, tenor and bass voices in the Choir and a few places on the percussion course. 


The next Summer School – our 40th anniversary – will be held from Saturday 7 to 14 August 2021 at Downe House School in Cold Ash, near Newbury in Berkshire, UK.

This will be broadly similar to what was planned for 2020 – including course repertoire.

The 2019 Summer School was a huge success, with excellent attendance at a superb new venue, and great music-making by all the ensembles and friendly support from our amazing team of tutors. We believe that our summer school is the premium offering in the market!

Of the 80% of people who responded to our feedback survey in 2019:

  • 100% would recommend the summer school
  • 97% planned to come again in 2020
  • 95% said the course is good or excellent value for money


Main house block

Downe House School is a girls’ boarding school and an ideal venue for our music summer school.  Music accommodation is plentiful, the residential accommodation comprises single and double rooms, all with wash basins, catering is of a very high quality, and the buildings are accessible and close together, with parking nearby.  Situated only a few miles from the M4 and A34, and from Newbury station, the school has excellent transport links. Extensive and beautiful grounds as well as a swimming pool complement the facilities available to course members.  And of course we will be setting up our usual bar!  Overall, Downe House School is a wonderful venue for enjoying friendship in music.


NLMS offers a challenging and enjoyable week of music making in a very friendly atmosphere.  Two orchestras, a choir, a brass ensemble and a string group provide a wide variety of courses to suit all abilities and interests.  New in 2021 is a percussion course.

A feature of NLMS Music Summer School is the very high ratio of tutors to participants, with a professional tutor for each instrumental and vocal section.  All courses enjoy wide-ranging and exciting repertoire.

An extensive choice of optional sessions is open to all, complementing the main courses.  We anticipate 2021 will feature baroque strings, woodwind ensemble, open strings and an open choir session. This year will also see the return by popular demand of Open Light Music. 

Concerts take place on many of the evenings, given both by participants and professionals.


We aim to provide enjoyment through music-making and, while we achieve high standards of performance, this is never at the expense of friendliness and good humour. I hope to see you at Downe House in August 2020 and, whether you are a regular attender or a new member, you can be assured of a warm welcome.

Steve Bingham
NLMS Music Summer School Director, 2020

Video © Rhodri Spearing


See what makes NLMS Music Summer Schools so highly regarded by participants…

“A high spot of our year. Many thanks for providing such a super musical experience.”

“This week was close to being perfect for me.”

“Not only musically helpful but friendly. I look forward to next year.”

“A wonderful week of hard, fulfilling study and practice.” 

“A very good social opportunity to meet and make new friends.”

“The venue, organisation, facilities and camaraderie have been 1st rate.”

“I had such a good time. Music-making is so exciting!”

“This course kept me smiling for weeks.”


>> Explore Downe House School

Explore the courses available, including details of repertoire…

>> Symphony Orchestra

>> Sinfonietta

>> Choir

>> Brass Ensemble

>> Percussion Group

>> String Group


Whether you are one of our many frequent returners, or thinking about coming for the first time, at NLMS Music Summer School you will enjoy a wealth of music making activities, professional tuition in an encouraging and supportive atmosphere, with excellent food, convivial social activities, beautiful surroundings and lots more besides. Applications are now open – we’re looking forward to receiving your application!

>> Apply Now!